Three cubs born this winter have been discovered in Béarn, the first since the 1970s in this part of the Pyrenees where bears are rare, pro-bear associations have announced. “It’s encouraging. We generally have a litter of three bears each year, but not in Béarn, where only two females were released in 2018 in the Aspa Valley and three males, on both sides of the border with Spain“, says Alain Reynes, director of Pays de l’ours-Adet.
“This year we can hope for fifteen cubs“, he continues. Of the 16 cubs born in 2020 in the Pyrenees, 4 died. The mortality rate of cubs is high in the first year. They give birth to barely 300 grams and at this time reach 3 to 5 kg. time of year.
There are not enough born to rebuild the population
In 2020, bear monitoring teams discovered 64 bears, of which we must seize four missing cubs and three adult bears killed by man, one in France, two in Spain. The three cubs listed this week were with mother Sorita. The two cubs seen near her in 2019 did not survive, and she did not have any in 2020. “Even if these births are not enough to restore a sustainable population, this is great news that gives hope for the future of the species in the Pyrenees.“, underline associations defending the presence of bears in the massif.
The protection process began in 1996
In 1996, France launched a rescue operation for the Pyrenean brown bear, an endangered species, by releasing bears from Slovenia, which have adapted well to their new environment. Mountain breeders oppose this policy, condemning the looting of herds on high pastures, especially in Ariège, where about fifty bears are concentrated. The Ferus and Pays de l’ours associations are asking the French state for new releases to ensure the species’s permanent presence, as recommended by the European Commission, and the replacement of the three bears that people killed last year. French authorities sent in March, to Brussels, for approval, Our-Pyr’s Life (financial instrument for the environment) funding program for the coming years, which it does not plan to re-publish, Bear Country reports.